#AWP13 Redux: Recharging through Reconnecting

By Simmons Buntin For Terrain.org, it’s difficult to measure success at a conference like the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference and bookfair, which this year drew well over 11,000 people. We’re not selling books or broadsides or subscriptions, so there’s no financial gauge. Instead, we’re promoting access to our online journal, which is free (and ad-free); talking with publishers about review, excerpt, and content-sharing possibilities; and mostly encouraging writers who have never heard of us to submit, though like most journals we can accept so little of what we receive. This year felt to me a lot like New York, when we were on the third floor. It was a lovely space, but two flights up from the main bookfair area and didn’t get much traffic. In Boston, the second floor clearly didn’t get as much foot traffic as the first, and that’s a problem since we pay the same amount. But the projector and screen worked out well, and though I’m not sure it helped draw folks over from across the vast room, it did at least catch peoples’ attention as they walked the long rows of table after table. I do feel like we made some great connections, helped get the word out on our unique journal, which has been publishing online for more than 15 years, and learned a good bit about how to approach the next conference (whether AWP in Seattle in 2014 or something/somewhere else).

Pompous Poet v. Editor-in-Chief at #AWP13

By Simmons Buntin Let’s start today’s conference review off with a true story of an angry submitter, shall we? The publisher residing at the table next to me hales from a distant land, and he’s a nice enough fellow. He publishes authors from North America and beyond, and one such author confronted me yesterday. The conversation went something like this: Pompous poet: “Hey, I submitted to you but you rejected my poem. Fuck you!” Arm and hand gestures followed. Editor-in-chief: “We are quite competitive.” Pompous poet: “Competitive my ass!” He then pulls his book off the publisher’s table, flips it to the acknowledgements at the back of the book, and shoves it in front of my face: “Look at that! All those contests I’ve won!” Editor-in-chief: “Indeed.” Pompous poet: “Your call for submissions said you wanted longer poems, so I wrote a 200-line poem and sent it off.” Editor-in-chief: “You sent it off right away? Did you let it sit a bit first and give it time to consider it?” Pompous poet: “I don’t need to do that shit. That’s a good fucking poem. You suck.”

So Apparently I’ve Got this Reputation at #AWP13

By Simmons Buntin So apparently I’ve gained this reputation at AWP, at least among those close to me, for stealing pint glasses with logos. It’s true that I have a collection of about 130 pint classes with different brewery logos at home, most from my time working for the U.S. Department of Energy and traveling across the west, back before 2000. And the vast majority of those purchased fair and square. But on occasion, as the other evening at Orleans, if a glass is not for sale but is a worthy, let us say essential addition to the collection… Then, yes, I will liberate it. But hey, I didn’t take the Samuel Adams glass so readily available at the seafood restaurant last night following the very excellent “Wild Lives / Raucous Pens” reading. So perhaps I’m on the road to reform—or at least I’ve already got a Sam Adams pint glass. On to yesterday’s conference review...

A Big First Day Coming at #AWP13

By Simmons Buntin The last time I spent time at a Starbucks in a distant city, a man came in screaming that he had been stabbed (and in fact he had). If I’ve noticed one thing about Boston so far, at least around the convention center, is that there is a Starbucks approximately every 200 yards—and a Dunkin Donuts every 300. No stabbings so far. Still, we’ve had our excitement, so let’s get to it by looking at the biggest AWP pain, biggest AWP pleasure, best character, what I learned about Boston today, what I look forward to later today, and a final word on beer.

Making Our Way to Boston for AWP

By Simmons Buntin If you’re one of the other 11,000 writers, editors, publishers, educators, and friends who will be in Boston this week for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) annual conference, I hope you’ll join us at one of Terrain.org's happenings: our Bookfair table (R18), contributor signings, and our "Wild Lives / Raucous Pens" literary reading. It will be, as they say, the bomb! Also, this starts the first of what I hope will be daily AWP blog updates. A sample: So what does an editor such as myself bring to read on such a journey? A handful of unread creative nonfiction submissions, the latest issues of Poets & Writers and Outdoor Photography, and a handful of poetry books I’ve been meaning to read over the last 18 months or so, including In the Songbird Laboratory, by Lauren Eggert-Crowe, Heavenly Bodies, by Cynthia Huntington, Tropicalia, by Emma Trelles, Beyond Heart Mountain, by Lee Ann Roripaugh, and Blue Horses Rush In, by Luci Tapahonso. I just finished Derek Sheffield’s  Through the Second Skin, which is just wonderful. I’m looking forward to these other collections, and find airplane flights, with their strange white noise, to be perfect venues for reading verse.